Berrien County Juvenile Center receives One School at a Time grant


BERRIEN Co., Mich.--- The school year is winding down, but there are some classrooms that will keep the lessons going.

The teachers are hard at work at the Berrien County Juvenile Center making sure the kids get a shot at a good education and a second chance.

“We like them all but we don't want them to come back,” said Mike Marinello, Principal at the juvenile center. “Our hope is to get them all out and get them back into their regular programs, and hopefully get them on the track to graduate from high school.”

Martin’s Supermarkets presented the juvenile center with a check for a $1,000 today to aid in buying books for a reading program that hopes to help students make progress.

Marinello knows these kids are getting an education they have never received before.

“Because it's the first time they've actually gone to school every day and had a teacher in front of them, a teacher and a paraprofessional,” said Marinello. “We assess the kids just as soon as they get in so that we know right where they are. In all the different areas of reading and we can sit down and create a program specifically for them.”

Marinello says there are close to 30 students at the Juvenile Center, and that almost half of them are in a residential program meaning they stay at the center anywhere from 9 to 12 months.

“That means they could be here anywhere from a week to a few months,” said Marinello. “And even in that short amount of time, the teachers are able to assess their educational needs.”

Marinello said reading is the foundation for everything they are taught.

Josh, a student at the juvenile center, knows what reading can do to help kids learn and stay on track to succeed.

“It increases your vocabulary,” said Josh. “It expands the mind. Once in a while it allows you to escape reality.”

“A lot of kids, sad to say, they need to escape reality,” said Josh. “Books are one of the positive ways that you can do that.”

Teacher Andi Lemon is thrilled that Martin’s Supermarkets “One School at a Time” grant will help them buy new books.

“We have a limited number of books here, and dated books,” said Lemon. “It'll be nice to revamp and renew some of the books we have in the library and get many more reading materials.”

Lemon hopes to purchase books that are popular right now or have been made in to movies.

Anything that will engage the students and motivate them to keep reading, because in the end it is all about helping the kids at the juvenile center make positive steps forward in life.

“Everyone needs a second chance,” said Marinello “Our program is what we think is really going to bring these kids along, and get them off the streets. Get them doing something different. And they get so excited and motivated that when they go back to school they have a much better chance.”

You can nominate your school for the “One School at a Time” grant.

The winning school gets $1,000 from Matin’s Supermarkets and a new winner is picked every month.

Schools only need to apply once and you can do so by going to michianaschools.com


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